Profile of Oporto
Portugal's second biggest city, Oporto ("Porto" in Portuguese) is the capital of Portugal's most famous wine region - Port. It is home to most of the Port lodges (where the winesare aged after vinification in the wineries along the Douro further inland), located in Vila Nova de Gaia and is located magnificently on the banks of the great Douro River. Oporto is well known forits characteristic sailboats, the "Barcos Rabelos", which used to ship Port downstream from the vineyards. The journey was actually quite dangerous, but even despite the introduction of the Port trainin the late 1800's, the Barcos Rabelos continued to be used for transporting Port until the 1960's. These days, the famous boats are used for an annual race, held in Oporto in June every year.
Oportois a town of contradictions- still very poor by European standards and yet full of some unidentifiable charm that seduces the visitor. The river is lined with great, non-pretentious seafoodrestaurants, where traditional dishes like "Tripas" (tripe) and "Ameijoas" (clams) are served in the boisterous bars and cafes. The city has a tremendous amount of atmosphere, with narrow, steep, winding lanes;old trams; beautifully tiled and deteriorating facades; and a bizarre blend of mom and pop shops rubbing elbows with elegant new shops, overcrowded and happily noisy neighborhoods falling intoopulent suburbs full of villas and luxuriant gardens. The main attractions architecturally are the Sé cathedral, 13th century cathedral renovated in the 18th century and located on the hill above Oporto'shistoric São Bento train station. You can climb the Renaissance epoch stairs, which lead you to a chapterhouse, and provide stunning views over the old quarter. The Igreja de São Francisco is anotherextraordinary church with a Gothic exterior and decadent gilded Rococo interior. The Stock exchange, A Bolsa, is also an impressive building, constructed in the 19th century in an array of styles...
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